Recovering from substance abuse can be a difficult and challenging process. More than anything your teen will need your love and support. To help understand how a teen develops an addiction, what type of impact the substance abuse has on them and what you can do as a parent to support your teen’s recovery from substance abuse, I have interviewed psychologist Dr. John “Jack” McInroy.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a father of three biological and two-step adult children with 8 grandchildren. Professionally I am a licensed psychologist in private practice for the last 30 years treating addiction as well as other disorders.”
“A few years ago my only son and name-sake became addicted to cocaine, spent all of his college money and became suicidal before confiding in me. I put him in the local hospital and then in an adolescent treatment program for 45 days and a half-way house for another 45 days. I decided I needed to learn everything I could about addiction and began studying under one of the foremost experts in the U.S.: Dr. Chad Emrick for the last 15 years.”
“I learned that the most traditional and popular treatment programs are ineffective and based on 1935 faith-based technology. The first and only scientific study of the effectiveness of AA reveals of those who attend AA regularly, approximately 35% gain and remain sober! Yet it is often referred to as the most effective alcohol treatment program in the world. Not True!! This may have been true in 1935 but not in the present. What happens to the other 65% who relapse and dropout? They are considered failures by family, friends, and themselves when in fact the “program” failed them. Researched indicates when a program is tailored to the individual’s belief system, his/her success rates improves significantly!”
What type of impact can medication have on a teen’s ability to recover?
“Traditional treatment counselors and programs strongly discourage the use of any medication including those for depression, anxiety and mood disorders. There is no scientific research to support this position and in fact this practice has a negative effect on the person’s recovery.”
“Even more controversial is the use of medications to help the addicted person to maintain sobriety by taking away the compulsive thinking and “high” from the chemicals and alcohol. One of the psychiatric leaders in this area is John Fleming, MD, Psychiatrist, in Colorado Springs, Colorado who as stated in several public forums he considered it malpractice to not prescribe medications to addicts.”
How does a teen develop a drug addiction?
“Most teen years are characterized as a need for independence from one’s parents, which often is replaced by a dependence on peers’ opinions, dress, attitudes, and behaviors. It’s a time when Dad and Mom know nothing about school, morals, traditions, peer loyalty and the world in general.”
“Some teens are actually “dying” to be accepted and to belong. There is nothing they won’t do: drugs, alcohol, sex, steal, cheat, and even be violent with one motive in mind, be “cool” and accepted.”
“We live in a drug culture saturated by the media to not only take over the counter medications but now prescriptions as well. We have a pill for everything from sleep to sex to abortion, for anxiety, depression etc.”
“We parents are number one on the hypocrite list for teens. We have a pill for all occasions as well as a drink or two or three every night and preach to our kids to avoid drugs and alcohol as they are evil and will ruin their lives. ‘Do as I say not as I do!'”
What type of impact can a teen’s drug addiction have on their overall life?
“Fortunately most teens go through these drugging and drinking years with minimal negative effects and eventually grow up to be responsible citizens. The minority of teens continue the habits into adulthood and struggle with addiction most of their lives. Their parents and family members also suffer the side effects of the road of disaster left behind. A percentage of these addicted individuals have serious health conditions, overdoses, and suicide.”
What’s a responsible parent to do when he/she discovers their child is on drugs or alcohol?
1. “Talk to your child, don’t lecture and listen.”
2. “Find immediate professional help from a licensed professional experienced in substance abusing adolescents on an intensive outpatient program (2-3 times a week). Insist on a treatment program tailored to your adolescent; not the reverse.”
3. “Insist on random drug testing with serious consequences for not passing them.”
4. “Make the adolescent account for every penny they spend.”
5. “Engage in family therapy with all family members.”
How do I pay for this treatment?
“Almost all health insurances pay for some addiction treatment. While this is an important aspect to consider, it shouldn’t be the most important one. This may be the only chance you have to correct the addiction problem, so do the research as to what professional has the best record regardless of insurance and location. Drive an extra 45 minutes, take out a loan to pay for treatment. How much is your child’s life worth? This is a terminal disease so don’t treat it as a cold.”
Thank you Dr. McInroy for doing the interview on how a parent can support their teen’s recovery from substance abuse. For more information on Dr. McInroy or his work you can check out his website on www.DrMcInroy.com or contact him at 303-753-9258 or Shrink1324@gmail.com.
Signs Your Teen is Using Drugs
Performance Enhancing Drugs